Summary: We will define proper perspective for work; paid, unpaid, school, home
Opening illustration: This is a lesson I began to learn shortly after becoming a Christian, while serving in themilitary in England. There were several of us who had just set out on the Christian adventure. In ourenthusiasm to serve Christ we somehow concluded that we didn’t need to concern ourselves with mundane rules about shined boots and clean, pressed uniforms. Our superiors quickly made the connection between our new faith and our sloppy appearance. And in that small corner of the world, Christianity was in danger of being linked with insubordination.
B.Background to passage: Work was originally created as a blessing. Adam was given the garden to tend, but notlaboriously. It was only in the curse that God pronounced that Adam would now have to work by the sweat ofhis brow. So, often we see work as a necessary evil to support our wants and needs. For some it becomes something that is loathed, and for others it is something that is worshipped and defines you. Put in a biblical perspective it is something that exalts God, therefore bringing fulfillment.
C. The word Paul uses for slave is most often translated “servant.” My point is simply that we must divorce theconcept that we have of slavery from the kind that has marred our nation’s past. These servants were oftenwell taken care of, educated, paid, and treated as family. They occupied positions of management in the household, teaching, doctors, and tradesmen. Very few were seasonal labor, that position was reserved for day laborers. The servants usually had good working arrangements and laws in place to protect them too. Unfair or unkind treatment of slaves and servants was the exception, not the rule.
D.Even under the best of circumstances there would have been some servants, and under the worst ofcircumstances many servants who wanted to be free. They would see their freedom in Christ as an indicationof what should be. Some would also see their continued service under authority as a vestige of their lives, and even though still doing it, they disdained it and became unfaithful and arrogant in their approach to it. Therefore, Paul including teaching about their attitude toward their labor as servants.
E.Main thought: We will define proper perspective for work; paid, unpaid, school, home1)For His Great Name (v. 1)
a.In these two verses, the most important concern is at the end of verse one. We have a purpose clause thatinstructs as to why Paul is concerned about the behavior of servants: the name of God and the teachingmay not be reviled. This is the great purpose of all of life. The word used for defile is a strong word, it istranslated more often than not “blaspheme.” Notice he also says “the” teaching. This is indicative thatthe doctrine, or the whole of Christian teaching was on the line as well as the great name of our Savior.His point was that the way that servants acted was crucial to how they and their peers and mastersviewed God.
c.Illustration: we use the name of God so flippantly in our culture, but the Jews used an abbreviationbecause his name was too holy to write. You remember a few years back when a cartoonist drew andunflattering caricature of Muhammed, and Muslims all around the country and other countries wereterribly incensed, and that was just their prophet.
d.As I made clear last week, the exaltation of the name of Christ is the chief purpose of man andeverything he does. Do you realize your labor and attitude at work reflect on Jesus? Anything that we doto lift high the name of Jesus is worship; therefore, it follows that our work is worship. We offer asacrifice of gratitude to God for all he had done by swinging a hammer, fixing an appliance, working ina factory, managing people, creating action plans, sweeping floors, making pizzas, or cleaning house.This applies to work that you may get paid for or work that you don’t get paid for financially. We workfor his great name. We work for him. Someone else may sign our checks or do our evaluations or be ourboss, but we work for the King of kings and the exaltation of his name. We are trying to put on displaythe value of our God to all around us, and prohibit reasons for people to blaspheme Christ.
2) To Employees (v. 1)
a. Most of Paul’s instructions here are to employees. However, since we are all actually employed by God,
I suppose it applies to all. He speaks directly to these slaves who may be disrespecting their masters, the
distinction is between believing masters and non-believing masters. He says to count all employers as
honorable. He knew that there would be some that even by worldly standards would not be worthy of
honor, but still he commands to honor.